Saturday, April 24, 2010

Perspective

It's a funny thing, but the longer you do these things, the more "normal" becomes redefined. No I'm not talking about what other people view as normal (that shipped sailed LONG ago!), but what I view as normal. Today I logged 54 miles on the bike followed immediately by a 6 mile run. There was some breeze blowing so it was some work. And it was my longest workout of the year. There was a time when I would have considered this a HUGE workout, but today it seemed, if not short, at least not overly long. Very manageable. And while I definitely feel the effort, I also carried on with my normal weekend life (mow the lawn, go to BJs, etc...). Okay, the kids are with Grandma and Grandpa so it's not an entirely normal weekend. The point is, as much as kicking back and watching TV or taking a nap would definitely have been nice, it wasn't necessary. I just kept in motion and went about my day.

I consider my QT2 friends very normal, albeit in a very focused and disciplined way. I get it. I've done it. I'll do it again next year. I envy those going to Utah next week. I'm extremely excited to race Mooseman and then VOLUNTEER (!) at Lake Placid (also racing Pumpkinman). At first I planned to volunteer to help get a spot in next year's race, but I'm really starting to get jazzed for it. I've never had the opportunity to see that race through the eyes of the spectators. So many people who have seen it have said so many things about how it moved them, motivated them, etc... I'm excited to experience that too. That too is a new perspective, a new normal.

The last few years I've only raced two or three times a year (thus my lack of a USA Triathlon ranking), yet I consider myself a fairly serious athlete. People will ask me if I'm training for something, and while in a sense I am (hey IM Lake Placid 2011!), more and more the answer is no, I'm not training for anything in particular. I'm just doing this (training @5:00am) because that's what I do. It's normal to me.

Here are today's numbers. Tim would likely be horrified about how far above Z1 I've been training, but I'm just fooling around anyway! It's fun. I use my first lap as my pace lap and then set out to better that time on each subsequent lap. If I go out a bit hard like today (I haven't been on the road in 2 weeks so I was full of piss and vinegar), well it's going to be a hard day in the saddle because damn if I'll let the splits fade. (The laps were 52:02, 51:45, 51:38...the "plan" had been to average 54...whoops!)

Sandy Point Ride (3 laps)

Indian Ave to 2nd Beach T-Run

Saturday, April 17, 2010

That mirror doesn't lie.

I'm not talking about an actual mirror. I'm talking about a metaphorical mirror. I'm talking about our children. Today I was reminded of what is probably one of the biggest needs in combating the decline of our society's general health and initiative. The realization came as I stood waist deep in the pool with Alexandra and Dylan. The best way for kids to be healthy and happy is to let them do what they instinctively want to do. And what evolution has taught them to do is, here's the most important part, what they see you doing! No really, they will. Maybe not what you want them to do or make them do or yell at them to do, but seriously they will do what you do, good AND bad. And if we want our kids to be happy and healthy, let's get our collective asses off the couch, stop making excuses and just have a good time being active! If they see you honestly enjoying yourself, they will follow. If it is contrived, well kids also have built in bullshit meters. They won't be buying it.

So maybe kids don't need personal batting coaches, pitching coaches, soccer tutors, dance coaches, etc... to be happy and healthy. Maybe they don't need dieticians. Maybe they don't need more structure or discipline. Maybe YOU do! Maybe you just need to put down the "Double Down", get your own butt in gear, and find something you really enjoy doing and then do it! No excuses.

Worth a try, isn't it?

And as long as I'm up here on this soapbox, have you ever stopped to consider that not taking care of yourself amounts to one of those most selfish acts you can perform? Your family loves you. If you actively or passively forfeit years with them by not doing what it takes to try and remain healthy, well, that's hard to excuse.

I know I'm awfully preachy today, but before you judge me too harshly, know this: I will always lend whatever assistance I can to anyone who earnestly wants to learn to change, free of charge.

PS: Smile. :-)

Good workout

I was happily surprised by my run this morning. On the surface it might not appear spectacular, good, but it's nothing I haven't done already this year. Except for one thing: today I did my 10 mile run coming off the bike. Because of the wetness outside I road my trainer for the bike, but a good honest ride, if not overly long, it was. No slacking like some mornings. I drove my heart into zone and kept it there. It took some strong coffee, caffeinated gel, and sports drink to get the heart going, but I did! 75min later my legs felt sufficiently softened up, so I switched to run gear, strapped on the Garmin, and went out in to the damp mid-40s weather we're having. 1:08:50 later I was done.

I'm sitting here feeling very relaxed and not all that taxed. It's good to realize I'm making progress even when things get all foobar like they did last week. Next week the kids are staying with Grandma and Grandpa so I plan to log my first extended workout of the year. It'll give me an idea where I stand from an endurance standpoint, and thus give me the baseline I need to set a couple of goals for the year.

Today's run: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/30291953

On a side note, I'm a recent convert to Nike Free. I'd been pretty skeptical, but on a recent trip to Boston stopped by Niketown and tried on the 5.0 and the 7.0. The 7.0 wrapped my foot so well it was like I had finally found the shoes that were designed for my foot. I've run in them twice and had no issues. I also have not felt so smooth on the road in, well I don't know when. And I've been able to run w/o my orthotics for the first time since 2006. They are so incredibly stable on my foot, a product of the fit as well as the sole, that I have great confidence for the first time on all surfaces. It was a very pleasant surprise.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

One of those days

Maybe it was the lack of sleep all week. Maybe it was lingering fatigue from the Daddy and daughter dance. Maybe I was still dehydrated from yesterday's treadmill run. Maybe I was just plain weak from 4 days w/Norovirus earlier in the week. Maybe it was the crazy WNW wind blowing. Whatever it was, I just didn't have any punch today. Worst numbers since late February. But you know what? The primary cause just doesn't matter. It doesn't. None of those potential issues can be allowed to continue (well except the wind. no say in that one!), so in a sense it doesn't matter which one had the greatest impact. They all need to go.

In retrospect it's actually an interesting workout to analyze, interesting to me that is. No, not the numbers; outlier crap not worth keeping there. No, the interesting part is what was going through my head. That's why I'm writing this, actually.

I started at 6:00am and was in a fog for the next 3 hours. I knew last night I was going to be in a fog, but knowing it will happen and living it are two different things. What I did notice in that fog was that I didn't really feel slow. I felt normal. However the watch seemed to be running really, really fast! Intriguing. There were no stomach issues like last week, but there was no power on the hills either. I might actually take the hurling if it got me an extra 75 watts. As I saw the clocking running well past my previous benchmark times for this course I considered the impact of not being able to eat or retain much food for 4 days. Probably not good. I managed to hold the weight loss to 3 1/2 lbs, but I have a feeling there was some muscle in that 3 1/2 lbs. Following along this line of thinking then had me consider what I feel is the single greatest tenant of the QT2 protocol: consistency. Today was living proof. Little things, little cheats, little issues here and there can quickly add up and before you know it in one week you've regressed 4 weeks. Depending on what ultimately proves to have been the biggest contributing factor the rebound could well be less than 4 weeks, but nonetheless it will take time just to be where I was 8 days ago. If this pattern is born out across a year it's not hard to see how some athletes who "train really hard" still never improve.

I'm very experienced when it comes to this stuff. At least I have that going for me. I knew right away that I was paying the price for all those missteps. Call it athletic karma. However the real goal of the day was the volume anyway, not pace, so I just dialed it back a tick and did my full workout. I know too many people who would whine about being on a bad day, turn it in early and claim they didn't want to overdo it. Their body was telling them to rest. My body was telling me to stop being an idiot and take care of it. That begins be rebuilding my durability, which begins by putting in my volume at a manageable pace TODAY. Not tomorrow. Not Monday.

I do not have any physical ailments, I'm just tired and weak. The time to rebuild is now.

PS: The TRX experiment begins tomorrow. It's all part of "Operation Underwear Model." I'm seriously considering before and after pictures!

Friday, April 09, 2010

Kick'n it old school!

Dad's of daughters have a very common bond; we are not cool. There was not an ounce of cool, rhythm or coordination to be found. But you know what? Nobody cared. The mom's were all left at home so none of us had to endure ridicule of our dance stylings, and the girls were all under 10, so they were not mortified. I gotta tell you, our schools just are not getting the job done with education. Did you know not ONE kid knew how to do the electric slide? I was the macarena expert. And hey, nooobody does hammer-time like me! Some girl was trying to moonwalk...step off little sister. This is only for the fly muthas!

Seriously though, most of the night was like recess in dress clothes. Girls running. Girls screaming, that shrill, high pitched, make the coyotes cringe girlie scream. At one point even Alexandra had had enough. "It's too loud in there." And just when I thought we were heading home early, a friend of hers found her. And then another. And then they went to the bathroom. And then another girl went into the bathroom. And still more. And none came out. 5 minutes pass; 4 more girls in...none out. My daddy anxieties are flying now, "Maybe something happened. Maybe she had an accident and they're all staring and laughing at her. Maybe I should go in." And then "Cotton Eye Joe" starts playing and it's like someone announced free autographs from Nick Jonas. The ENTIRE posse comes cruising out of the restroom, Alexandra in the lead. Commence screaming. Unlike the electric slide, most of the girls had an idea about this dance. Next up was a set of Mylie Cyrus and a bunch of the girls got up on stage and started singing along to "Party in the USA." Alexandra was just jumping around with her 1st grade friends (she's in kindergarten). And the Dads? Well we did what Dads do. Hell we did what we've all done since co-ed dances in 5th grade. We sat or stood against the walls! Once Alexandra was cranked up again, she danced to everything, even Neil Diamond (which of course brought all the Dads out like it was the 8th inning at Fenway). Then it was Hammer-time! (Can't touch this...) Wish I had my parachute pants!

The dancing ended about the same time this odor arose in the gym. Little girls everywhere started holding their noses. Shoes were checked. Bummies surreptitiously sniffed. It smelled like someone had taken a dump right in the middle of the floor. And in the midst of this they raffled off the center pieces and assorted lovely parting gifts. We didn't win anything, but in the final assessment we made it home incident free. That's like the grand prize!

I don't know what it was, maybe the setting with a dance in the school gym, but I couldn't get the book/movie "Carrie" out of my head. It's a damn good thing all the kids were under 10 and there weren't boys involved. I can't imagine what it would be like with gender issues and hormones in play.

Oh wait, I can...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Good and Bad

This weather is beautiful, especially after the rains and floods from the beginning of the week. So there was no way I wasn't bringing my bike with me to CT for Easter. This was the perfect opportunity to get in my first ride of the year with some real climbing. The plan was to ride for about 2 1/2 hours, knock down 3500ft of climbing, and then do a 4.5 mile t-run. That was the plan anyway.

I woke of this morning and the only way to describe how I felt is "off." Nothing about breakfast seemed appealing. Nonetheless I choked down some sports drink, a power bar, and a little coffee. Fairly typical fare for me; nothing new. I set out at about 6:30am hoping I'd start to feel better, and alas I did somewhat. Not great, but better. Then I hit the first climb and WOW! My legs were outstanding. Really outstanding. Late June outstanding. Then I crested the first climb ready for a good ride and, whoops, up came the sports drink, power bar, coffee, etc... Not just a little, but all of it. From that point on I couldn't even hold down a gel. However the legs felt great so I opted to only shorten the ride by a little (removed one long climb) and just ride low Z1. Even without feeding I could manage that. You see it was just my stomach feeling off. Everything else was awesome, well, except my hands. I forgot my gloves. I finished the ride and opted to hold off on the run. If I feel better as the day progresses I can always throw it in. If not, no big loss; I'm running pretty well.

So I have mixed feelings about the day. Bummed I couldn't really go for it on a great day, but very excited about how strong I was. In the long run that's the more important thing anyway.

Cheers everyone,

Joel

PS: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/28798753
PPS: I so hate uptight drivers when I'm riding!